The immune system – an interactive network of organs, cells and proteins – is the body’s main defense against viruses, bacteria or any other foreign substances.
When the immune system works properly, you remain healthy and there is less chance of becoming ill. It’s when the performance of the immune system is compromised that you become vulnerable to infection and other health problems.
For better immunity, eating healthy and getting proper rest and sleep are essential. However, apart from a good diet and sound sleep, there are many small things that can help strengthen your immunity.
Here are the top 10 simple habits that boost your immunity.
1. Maintain Body Hygiene
The first simple habit that helps maintain a healthy immune system is practicing good personal hygiene. Good hygiene will help keep germs at bay and stop an infection before it begins. At the same time, you’ll avoid spreading germs to others.
- Wash your hands frequently—especially after touching anyone or anything that may have germs.
- Drying your hands thoroughly is just as important as washing them, because germs thrive more easily on wet surfaces.
- Use an herbal hand sanitizer when washing your hands is not possible.
- Take a bath or shower in lukewarm water daily.
- Always wash your wet towels in warm water and replace damp towels with dry ones often.
- Brush your teeth twice daily and floss once. Replace your toothbrush every three months.
- Use a mouthwash to kill the germs inside your mouth.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze.
- When coughing, cover your mouth with your elbow rather than your hand to prevent spreading germs to others.
- Do not pick at healing wounds, as doing so allows germs to enter.
2. Drink Plenty of Water
No matter how healthy you are eating, it won’t help your body much if you are not also drinking ample water.
One of the benefits of drinking water is that adequate hydration has a positive effect on your immune system. Water helps flush toxins out of the body and ensures that your cells and organs get all of the oxygen they need to function properly.
Another big benefit of drinking enough water is that it keeps your digestive system strong, so that you can properly digest your food. Adequate nutrition is essential to maintain a strong immune system.
When it comes to water, try to drink clean and filtered water. Especially when travelling, be aware that all countries do not follow stringent standards of water safety, and hence you may increase your risk of water-borne diseases if drinking from the tap.
While travelling, only drink bottled drinks and do not consume ice or anything in raw form.
3. Laugh Out Loud
While emotions like anger and grief can impair health, laughter does the opposite.
Laughter can give a boost to your immunity, which in turn will provide your body better resistance to disease and illness.
A hearty laugh can increase the number of anti-infection antibodies as well as T-cells in the blood. It also increases the number of antibodies in the mucus made in the nose and respiratory passages, the entry points for many germs.
In addition, laughter increases circulation, stimulates digestion, lowers blood pressure and reduces muscle tension.
So, try to start your day with a healthy dose of laughter. You can benefit greatly by joining a comedy club.
4. Catch Some Sunrays
Sunlight aids the production of vitamin D, the vitamin that helps promote protective immunity.
This vitamin supports proper functioning of the T cells that build immunity to help your body fight foreign, invading organisms.
If you have a low vitamin D level in your blood, you are at an increased risk of suffering from infections and tons of diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine highlights how vitamin D aids in modulating the innate and adaptive immune responses. The study also sheds light on the fact that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as increased susceptibility to infections.
Getting 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure (without sunscreen) on a daily basis is enough for the body to produce vitamin D.
5. Be Positive
Being optimistic and joyful is something we all should aspire for to remain healthy.
The immune system takes many of its cues from our thoughts and feelings. In fact, a positive attitude has been shown to improve immune cell functioning.
At the same time, those with a positive personality are at a lower risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
On the other hand, dwelling on negative thoughts can cause stress and other painful emotions, which can impact your immunity.
A 2010 study published in Psychological Science reports that feeling better about the future might help you feel better for real. Optimism may be good for your health and immunity.
6. Start Your Day with a Smoothie
Eating breakfast is important for your health, but eating something healthy is more important. Preparing a healthy breakfast is not possible for all. However, anyone can make a smoothie to get your day off to a good start.
Vegetables and fruits can practically double your immune system’s ability to fight disease. The immune system requires quite a few nutrients to function well. The antioxidant vitamins C, E, A and selenium are just a few nutrients that you can easily get from vegetables and fruits.
However, cooking vegetables and fruits can destroy their nutritional power. It is best to eat vegetables in raw form, which you can do by blending a few vegetables or fruits together to make a healthy smoothie.
To make a tasty smoothie, all you need is a food processor or blender, some fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts or seeds and just a few minutes in the morning for preparation.
Meditation, in its many forms, can tweak the immune system in a number of beneficial ways.
Meditation creates a positive mental environment for the immune system to flourish. It also boosts antibodies that make the immune system function more effectively.
Moreover, it increases volume in certain brain regions, which reduces anxiety and depression.
A 2003 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine reports that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research.
Another study published in 2016 in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences suggests possible effects of mindfulness meditation on specific markers of inflammation, cell-mediated immunity and biological aging. However, the results are tentative and require further replication.
Aim to practice meditation in a quiet and peaceful place for at least 10 to 15 minutes daily.
8. Take a Daily Walk
Exercise is one of the most important ways to promote good immunity.
If you do not have time for intense exercise, a daily walk of 30 minutes is all that your body needs to function properly. Walking is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.
Walking reduces the levels of circulating inflammatory factors and oxidative stress as well as increases the recirculation of immune cells that kill cancer and infected cells. It also improves the decreased T-cell function that occurs naturally with age.
A 2013 study by the Loyola University Health System reports that one of best ways to wind down and reconnect after a stressful day is by taking a walk. Though any walking is good, walking in the woods or in nature is better for reducing stress and improving your health.
Take a 30-minute walk daily in the morning and walk another 10 to 15 minutes after having your dinner. Running, swimming, jump-roping or other outdoor sports are also good for your immunity and overall health.
9. Listen to Relaxing or Uplifting Music
Another habit that can keep you healthy and your immunity strong is listening to music.
When you listen to music, there is an increase in the antibody immunoglobulin A in the body. This antibody plays an important part in the mucous system and keeps cells healthy.
Listening to music also aids in reducing the level of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that has many physiological effects, one of which has a role in promoting obesity.
Music can also have an effect on mental health conditions, helping you to fight a low mood, anxiety and depression.
You do not even have to take out time from your busy schedule to listen to music. You can enjoy your favorite tunes wherever you go and whatever you are doing – be it driving, running, walking, cooking, cleaning and even when you’re working.
10. Quit the Sugar
If you want good health and immunity, one small thing that can make a lot of difference is how much sugar you eat.
Sugar does not do anything good for your health. Eliminating sugar from your diet will do the most good. In fact, refined sugar dramatically reduces immune function and makes you more vulnerable to the common cold, flu and other infections.
Sugar impacts the functioning of white blood cells by competing with vitamin C for space in those cells. The white blood cells need vitamin C to function properly and destroy bacteria and viruses. So, the more sugar you consume, the less vitamin C reaches the white blood cells, resulting in weakened immunity.
Stay away from sugar, and not just refined white sugar. Even regular coke and bread contain sugar. Choose products carefully and opt for a natural sweetener, such as stevia, jaggery, honey and others.
- Avoid your regular tea and coffee and opt for healthy ginger tea or green tea.
- Get enough sleep and manage stress.
- Avoid smoking as well as secondhand smoke.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, as excessive consumption impairs the immune system and increases vulnerability to lung infections.
- Take probiotics—foods or supplements containing cultures of bacteria that are good for your health.
- Eat 1 to 2 raw garlic cloves a day.
- Include immune-boosting herbs and spices such as rosemary, oregano and turmeric in your cooking.